Burnout in Clinicians Working with Offenders with Personality Disorder: a service improvement project

Robert J. Chandler, Andrew Newman, Catherine Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: The present paper examines levels of clinician burnout in a community forensic Personality Disorder (PD) service, and explores how burnout may arise and be minimised within a service of this nature.

Design/methodology/approach: A mixed methods approach was utilised, assessing levels of burnout and making comparisons with a comparable previous study. Focus group data regarding burnout and suggestions for reducing the risk of burnout was analysed using thematic analysis.

Findings: Levels of burnout were generally found to be higher in the current sample when compared with generic PD services. Qualitative data suggest that working in a forensic PD setting may pose a range of additional and complex challenges; these are explored in detail. Minimising burnout might be achieved by developing resilience, utilising humour, team coherence and ensuring that breaks are taken, and developing one’s own strategies for “releasing pressure”.

Practical implications: The risk for burnout in clinicians working with offenders with PD may be higher than other groups of mental health clinicians. Despite this, attempts to minimise burnout can be made through a range of practical strategies at the individual, team and organisational level.

Originality/value: This is the first project to assess levels of burnout specifically in a team of clinicians working with offenders with PD, and offers an exploration of how burnout may manifest and how it can be managed in this unique area of mental health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-150
JournalJournal of Forensic Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2017


  • Personality disorder
  • Burn Out
  • Offenders
  • Stress
  • Community
  • Forensic


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